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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

The Witches’ Spell :: Act IV, Scene 1 from Macbeth (1606) by William Shakespeare

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.

2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.

3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!

1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beer Tasting Notes {Laughing Dog Brewing :: Dogzilla Black IPA}

I like the name of this beer because I made a little stuffed doggy-monster toy for my friend's little boy, and his name is Dogzilla.  I think I like the stuffed Dogzilla better than the liquid Dogzilla...

Laughing Dog Brewing Dogzilla Black IPA
This 6.9% American Black IPA pours a dark mahogany color that shows hints of ruby red when held to the light, and a tight head of foam. It smells of sweet burnt caramel and maybe some piney hop hiding in the wings.  It has a boozy roasted malt flavor up front, with a hint of bitter herbal hops at the finish.  Not as much hop flavor as I would expect from a Black IPA; this one is overrun by the roasted malts.  This was an interesting brew, but I don't think I'd buy it again.  There are better Black IPAs out there.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse :: A Conversation {Zombies are the new Black}

Zombies are the new black.  

One of my best friends sent me the following bulletin that was posted on her company's intranet this morning:

The Company* is warning staff about a zombie apocalypse on their intranet.

Ready for a Zombie Apocalypse? Then you're ready for any emergency. If not, do you know what should you do before zombies arrive  or natural disasters or pandemics actually happen? 

First, have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp. (Or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored.) 

Next, sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan:. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door, or an earthquake, flood or other any other emergency struck. 

Look for the zombies roaming around The Company* today and ask them for a tip card on emergency preparedness to help you build your own to-go kit. 

*company name changed for confidentiality reasons

The following conversation ensued.

She :: They are coming after you.

Me :: Oh crap, I better make up my emergency zombie plan pronto!

She :: Since my parents live by the cemetary they have a kit ready.

Me :: Does it contain a machete?

She :: Apples. Zombies hate apples.

Me :: Oh good, I just bought apples.  I should be covered.

She :: What kind of apples?

Me :: Honeycrisp.  They're hard and sweet, best to combat zombies.  Breaks their teeth and fights off zombie funk stench.

She :: Those don't work. You'll need golden delicious.

Me :: Your information is questionable.  What does golden delicious offer that honeycrisp does not?

She :: Who knows.

Me :: I think I'll plant a barrier of golden delicious trees around my property, hopefully they are quick to grow.  What else do you suggest that I have in my kit?

She :: Lava.

Me :: That's hard to come by this time of year.

She :: And it has to be from Indonesia.

Me :: Do you know a good Indonesian lava importer?  Maybe they will also sell machetes…

Then we got bored and moved on to the topic of outrageous birthday cakes for 1 year olds.  But that's a conversation for another post.




If you like beer, laughing, good food, and occasional crafty stuff - follow me on Google Friend Connect and sign up for updates via email!  You won't be sorry!  Cheers!

Recipe of the Day {Low Fat Zucchini & Summer Squash Lasagne}

It's the tail end of an Indian Summer, and just in case you had better luck in the garden than I did this year and still have squashes on the vine, I have a gorgeously delicious (and low fat) recipe to share.

Usually during the summer, I have a plethora of squash coming out of my garden.  However this year, my squash plants got hammered by white flies {the bastards} and my harvest was meager.

But, I was able to make this awesome low fat lasagne with a couple of zucchinis and a peter pan summer squash.

Why it's called peter pan {according to the nursery} and not patty pan {like at the farmer's market} is beyond me.

It looks just like patty pan that I normally buy at the market, so I just call it Summer Squash, so there. Pffft!

Low Fat Zucchini & Summer Squash Lasagne
Whole wheat lasagne noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1-2 Zucchini, sliced into long planks
1 Summer Squash, cubed
Your favorite tomato sauce
Appx 1 lb. ground meat {I used turkey in this particular batch}
1 tub low fat ricotta
1 brick low fat mozzarella, shredded
Fresh parmesan
garlic salt and pepper, to taste
Boil water and cook lasagne noodles until al dente.  Make sure not to overcook them, or they will fall apart when you try to handle them.  They will finish cooking in the oven.
Brown your meat, and season with garlic salt and pepper.  Don't be stingy with the garlic salt - that flavor needs to be strong enough to penetrate the sauce and cheese, while not overpowering the dish.  I would guess that I use about a tablespoon for a pound of meat.  When the meat is browned, add the sauce, stir, bring up to heat, then put at a nice low simmer.
Mix about 1/3-1/2 of the shredded mozzarella with the ricotta, and throw in some fresh parmesan {I use just a little, it's pretty strong when it's fresh}.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a glass baking dish, layer the ingredients as follows.
Thin layer of sauce {to keep noodles from sticking to the dish}
1/2 of the noodles
1/2 of the cheese mixture
1/2 of the sauce
remaining cheese mixture
remaining noodles
remaining sauce
top with mozzarella

Bake at 350 degrees until the sauce is bubbly and the mozzarella is just beginning to brown, approximately 30-45 minutes.

Serve with green salad and a nice crisp Pale Ale or wheat beer.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Daddy Day

Jim decided that he wanted a day just for him and Lily.  So he sent me off to work, gave Nana the day off, and proclaimed it Daddy Day.  He was successful in getting her down for one of her two regular naps, and took her on an adventure to the park, where they enjoyed the geese and ducks.  This is the photo that he texted to me:

Mommy is jealous of Daddy Day.  *smile*

I think that Daddy Day is going to become a more regular occurrence.  Lucky baby!


Beer Tasting Notes {La Trappe Tripel}

I have to admit, I have a penchant for Belgian Tripels {right, cause you didn't notice??}  

La Trappe Tripel is an Abbey Tripel brewed by De Koningshoeven in Bavaria.  It is brewed with coriander seeds, which gives it a spicy flavor.

La Trappe Tripel 
This 8% ABV Abbey Tripel is golden orange in color, and pours with a nice cream colored frothy head.  It has a lovely aroma of malt, sweet yeast, and spicy banana.  The alcohol warmth is apparent as it hits my tongue, and that boozy flavor mixes well with a light caramel sweetness hiding behind the spicy malts and fruity yeast.  A very pleasant brew, but I wouldn't recommend it as a first jaunt into the world of Tripels.  It isn't my favorite Tripel, but it was worth drinking.  Cheers!

Coriander = Cilantro!  Here in the US, and in Spanish speaking countries, we call the leaves of the coriander plant "cilantro" while we name the seeds "coriander."  The rest of the English speaking world calls the whole plant "coriander."  


Monday, October 24, 2011

Party Planning :: On Pinatas {and how not to get sued}

My best friend and I like to banter via email or text messages throughout the day.  It makes our repetitive and tedious office work more tolerable.  Today we started discussing the first birthday parties for our daughters.  It started out as a real conversation about how we want the parties to be simple and easy… and then this conversation happened.

She :: You know what I don't care for? Pinatas. Its not a good idea to give a kid who can't see a stick and ask them to swing.

Me :: I love pinatas, but I see your point!

She :: I don't care for them. They are always filled with those butterscotch and strawberry candies that I don't like anyways.

Me :: I'd fill them with unicorns and dreams

She :: That's not going to work. You're going to need tangible items like whistles and paperclips.

Me :: Really?  I kinda had my heart set on unicorns and dreams... but I guess I could bend paperclips into the shape of unicorn horns and into little Z’s to represent dreams, and fill it with those.

She :: Not dangerous at all. Let's blindfold a child, give them a weapon, ask them to hit an object they can't see with tons of children next to him, and finally the object is going to explode with little sharp metal z's.

Me :: That's the new theme for Lily's birthday party, Sharp Metal Z’s.

She :: Yeah, a lawsuit party!  What kind of float will Lily make her entrance on?

Me :: One made of butterscotch and strawberry candies.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SIMPLE Cloth Diaper Week :: October 23-29 {Video Bloopers!}

I am really excited about the upcoming Cloth Diaper week that I am co-hosting on SIMPLE next week! I have had the opportunity to review some awesome cloth diapers and accessories. I decided to make a video for each of the diapers reviewed. My hubby helped me out... and I was able to record some successful videos once he figured out that the difference between the little flashing recording light (that blinks when the video is recording) and the low battery icon, which blinks when the video is NOT recording... he actually recorded the spaces BETWEEN my diaper speeches... But it made for a couple of funny bloopers!

"Uh Oh"
Here's where we realized that Jim had accidentally been recording the spaces between...

"The Boob/Bra Strap Discussion Blooper"
Jim was helping to prep me for what I'd say in my videos...

"The Phineas Blooper"
This one occurred near the end, after the "recording issue" was resolved... Phineas wanted to get in on the blooper action.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tis {Almost} the Season :: Christmas Cards from Tiny Prints to the Rescue!

It's the end of September, and Fall is barely in the air here in the Northern California valley... Halloween is just around the corner, and Thanksgiving too... but I am already seeing Christmas items in the stores, and it's making me antsy about Christmas cards!  I love customized cards, they are so much more personal, so I like to get photo cards.  I'm so excited to get awesome photo cards this year, and I already know I'll be getting them from Tiny Prints.

I used Tiny Prints at Mother's Day and Father's Day, and they saved me a trip to the store to pore over possible cards with a wee babe in tow - I was able to sit at the computer during one of Lily's naps to choose and customize the perfect card.  My parents, Jim's parents, and Lily's great grandpa all loved their custom cards.  I was impressed with the vibrance of the colors and the crispness of the photo.  And when you consider that Tiny Prints cards are comparable in price to greeting cards at the store, why not make custom cards for the special people in your lives?

I've been looking at all of the Tiny Prints Christmas card options, and it is so hard to choose just one as my favorite!  However, you all know I am obsessed with color, so this is currently the top contender:

...or maybe for a more classical look:
Christmas Cards Banner of Dreams - Front : White

...or maybe this one, it's very whimsical!
Christmas Cards Swirly Plates - Front : Winterberry
...and it also comes in tri-fold!

So I guess the hardest part of this process is going to be choosing the card itself!  

Tiny Prints' card customization software is so easy to use. Uploading photos and dropping them into your chosen card is simple.  Then you can quickly customize the text as you wish (they provide sample text in case you're not feeling creative), and presto! your beautiful, customized, personal greeting card is complete!

Tiny Prints also ships cards directly to your friends and family!  
Now you can have Tiny Prints mail your cards, invitations or announcements directly to recipients! Just choose the "Mail for Me" option, tell us who to send them to and we'll do all the work from there. Not only will you save time, you'll also save on shipping costs — all you have to do is pay for stamps and envelope printing.  You'll save even more time if you set up your Tiny Prints Address Book in advance. You can import contacts from almost any other digital address book, or enter your friends and family members into the system one at a time. Then, when you place an order, you can select the people you want to add to your mailing list from your Tiny Prints Address Book with just one click!
There is an excel template that you can download from Tiny Prints in which you can enter your entire address book (if you're anything like me, you already have all of your contacts in an excel spreadsheet... I'm a spreadsheet geek... so sue me!).  Once your spreadsheet is complete, you simply upload the file!  Super simple!

I'm so excited to get family portraits done so I can choose the Tiny Prints Christmas card that best fits our photos!  And I'm really looking forward to not having to hand-address all of my cards this year! {I'm busy with a baby, not lazy... ok, maybe just a *little* lazy}



Friday, October 7, 2011

HAPPY FRIDAY!! :: Count von Count {totally looks like} Steven Colbert

While bantering via email with my happy hour buddies on this lovely Friday afternoon about who to count in for happy hour, this random and uncanny resemblance came to me and I just had to share it with the internets...

Cheers!  Happy Friday!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Countdown to the Holidays :: {Sanity and Money Saving Tips}

The first rule of holiday planning is, you don't talk about holiday planning... the second rule of holiday planning is, you don't talk about holiday planning...

Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.  Since I have an almost-one-year-old stuck to my hip most of the time (I’m chasing her around the house the rest of the time), I need to start my holiday planning a little earlier this year to maintain what little sanity I have left.

Let’s face it: between shopping for gifts and planning family get togethers, we expend a ton of brain power and funds between October and December.  Add in the fact my younger twin brothers’ birthday and Lily’s birthday are around Thanksgiving; and Jim’s birthday, his mom’s birthday, his brother’s birthday, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, and my best friend’s birthday are all in December… I have a TON of gifts and parties during these months, so I HAVE to stay organized and be frugal as much as possible.

Here is my holiday countdown, which includes both sanity-saving and money-saving tips and ideas.

Make a checklist.  
Keep it in a notebook in your purse, as a running email that you send and reply to yourself, or as a list in your smart phone.  I am way beyond the point in my life when I could manage a full college class schedule and 3 job schedules in my head, all while doing homework, writing essays, reading novels, and having a rockin' social life.  These days, if I remember to brush my teeth before rushing off to work, I feel successful.  So I make lists.  About everything.  Especially party and holiday planning.  

Don't spend big money on centerpieces - make your own!  
If you need to buy some supplies to get your crafting juices flowing, buy them from thrift stores or from the dollar store!  On Thanksgiving, collect some colorful fall leaves from your yard and put them under a sheer table runner (which can be made from an inexpensive piece of fabric gleaned from the thrift store).  For Christmas, pick some bare branches (you need to prune your trees anyway) and spray paint them gold, then stick them in a vase and hang small shiny and glittery ornaments from them.

Clip coupons in the Sunday paper and in the grocery store ads.  
Coupons for holiday food stuffs abound this time of year.  I know that every year we make green bean casserole, so I know I'll need to find a coupon for french fried onions and cream of mushroom soup.  There are always coupons for stuffing mixes (for those of us who don't make it from scratch - who do you think I am, Martha Stewart? *wink*), cranberry sauce, etc.  Just remember to take them to the store with you when you go shopping.  Maybe you can paperclip them to your checklist. *smile*

I do my Christmas and birthday gift shopping all year round.  
I have a special drawer for gifts, and before I do any shopping around the holidays, I delve in and see what I've squirreled away throughout the year.  It saves me a lot of headache fighting the holiday shopping crowds!

Shop online!  
Hit up Etsy for some awesomely unique gifts!  Amazon has awesome prices on just about everything, and free shipping on most items to boot!

Shop for wine ahead of time to save some money!  
Beverages and More (a beverage chain in California and Arizona) has a 5 cent wine sale several times a year - for selected wines, you buy one bottle and get the second (of the same wine) for 5 cents.  I purchase my Thanksiving and Christmas wines (both for meals and for gifts) at the 5 cent wine sale, and I save a ton of money!  Check out their website because apparently they can ship wine to other states, and the sale is happening NOW!  Awesome!  Oh how I wish BevMo did a 5 cent beer sale...

Make sure to take family group photos at every get together.  
Almost every camera these days has a timer, so make use of it and capture some memories. 

Order your Christmas cards online!  
I LOVE personalized photo cards (both giving and receiving), and I am super excited to find the perfect Christmas card for Lily’s 2nd Christmas.  This year, I fell in love with Tiny Prints.  I used them for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, and they were such a hit with Lily's grandparents!  I’ve already got my eye on a couple card designs, which I will share with you soon!

Find excellent holiday recipes ahead of time.  
Email friends for their faves or look on the internet.  Print them out and keep them in a folder or inside your favorite cookbook.  When it comes time to do your grocery shopping, pull those puppies out and use them to make your list.  I’ll be posting two of my favorite holiday recipes on SIMPLE in November, and I’ll link to them here.

Don't stress!  
When I start to get overwhelmed, I always remind myself how calm I was when my wedding flowers were delivered, and they were half dead... (true story!)  I didn't let that pathetic excuse for a florist ruin my day.  I just sent my maid of honor to Trader Joe's to get whatever flowers she thought were pretty, and we made due.  I remained calm and had a memorable and beautiful wedding day.  If I can get through the biggest event I've ever planned (by myself, no wedding planner!) without freaking out, I can get through any holiday.  The key is to remind yourself to relax and have fun.  You only live once, and stress isn't worth spending too much time on.  So just breathe, grab a glass of wine, and smile!